Links and Car Porn

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“The thing is, you don’t get Hitler because of Hitler — there are always potential Hitlers out there. You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the liberals are too corrupt and incompetent to maintain a liberal polity.”

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And for car porn, I give you an immaculate 1980 Talbot Lotus Sunbeam. An estimated 150BHP. In that. In 1980. Sold at auction in 2014 for over £50K.

Isn’t that a beaut? A selection of knowledgable opinions on the car here on a forum I used to frequent back in the good old days when the internet wasn’t full of commies and millenial snotgoblins.

AJ

Meanwhile, in other complete and utter bollocks

I saw this is the dead tree edition yesterday while I was procrastinating in the tea room at work.

The more I think about it, the less sense it makes.

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Fine, whatever.. let’s get to the poll.

Our 10 worst driving habits

1. Not holding steering wheel in ”correct’’ 10-to-two position 46%

Umm.. what? As long as the driver is in control of the vehicle, I don’t care if he’s steering with his elbows.

2. Not applying handbrake at traffic lights 37%

Ah, this is implicit annoyance at being dazzled by high-level brakelights in the dark, I suspect.

Second worst habit though, ORLY?

3. Accelerating between speed cameras 31%

Oh right.. more annoying than facist cameras that enforce artificially lowered speed limits, imposed not for safety, nor for efficient traffic flow,but for REVENUE? I think not.

4. Exceeding urban speed limit 28%

Meh. All speed limits are advisory. You’re better off with me doing 40mph up your road with proper concentration, should I deem the conditions to be safe for it, than you are some brainless pillock whose attention is mostly focused on mollifying the MPV full of kids he/she is ferrying around, rather than looking outside of the vehicle to make sure he’s not mowing down your kids.

5. Drinking and eating while driving 21%

Again, I don’t give a toss what the driver is doing, so long as the vehicle is under proper control. The degree and latitude of control required in a stream of motorway traffic is significantly less than it is crossing the Snake Pass, for example.

It’s all about context.

BTW, you’re changing gear – I don’t need to – I have a spare hand. Disagree? So you don’t think disabled drivers with only one arm should be allowed?

6. Coasting with clutch down 14%

What? I mean.. just … what? WHO CARES!!!???

7. Using horn through frustration 12%

This is a lesser crime than being the driver who causes the frustration, be it through being inattentive or inconsiderate.

8. Passing through amber or red traffic lights 12%

Well duh..

9. Not concentrating 11%

Sorry.. I wasn’t listening then.. BTW lack of concentration (or failure to observe) is the #1 primary factor in road traffic accidents.

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See? in 2009 – failure to look properly contributed to 38% of all of RTAs.

Travelling too fast for contitions acounted for 11%.

The trends 2005-2009 for those figures are interesting, too.

10. Putting car’s nose out at junctions 7%

Hey – try sitting in a side road, trying to emerge out onto a main road, when no-one will let you out because they all hate your 4×4/BMW/Porsche. You stick your nose out, or you’ll soon have me behind you beeping the horn and flashing the lights, to make you get a fucking move-on.

So then, here is the Al Jahom run down of stuff that induces road rage in me:

1) Driving too slowly for the conditions and failing to allow quicker vehicles the opportunity to overtake.

2) Failure to observe proper lane discipline.

3) Indecisiveness, poor observation or timidity.

4) Flashing of headlamps, or gesticulating, at anyone with the audacity to drive more assertively than you.

5) Inability to recognise the correct speed limit on NSL sections of road.

6) Baby-on-board signs – and moreso, ‘Princess on board’ signs. May as well say ‘brain left in puddle on delivery room floor – expect erratic maneuvres’.

7) Use of foglights when visibility is good.

8) Caravans & Horse Boxes. Always.

9) Failure to indicate correctly and in a timely manner.

10) People who wear a hat while driving.

I can sum the maxims of good driving up in 7 clear words:

Get the fuck out of my way.

Alternatively, take a look at some of my ‘How to Drive’ posts.

AJ

Community Policing: Ur doin it wrong.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect.

It’s like South Yorkshire police have a sixth sense about when best to unleash their lunacy on an unsuspecting public.

Yesterday:

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Police have broken their ‘psychological contract’ with the public to keep the streets clear of anti-social behaviour, the country’s most senior officer admitted yesterday.

Scotland Yard chief Sir Paul Stephenson accepted beat patrols had been neglected and officers left behind desks, in cars or left doing ‘social work’.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner supported the call for the public to join the fight against yobs, saying they should be confident officers will back them.

I think when they say ‘yobs’, they must mean parents dropping their disabled kids off at school.

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Police have been accused of being ‘heavy-handed’ after sending a riot van to hand out parking tickets at a disabled school.

Parents were stunned when the vehicle pulled up as they were helping the children in wheelchairs from the school to their cars.

Officers were accused of being ‘rude’ for dishing out on the spot penalties as they waited at Hilltop Special School in Maltby near Rotherham.

One of the victims Dave Phillips was handed a £30 fixed penalty when he stopped for five minutes to pick up his wheelchair bound son Matthew, aged 16.

He had driven 15 miles from his home in Retford, Nottinghamshire, and parked outside the school before being confronted by a police woman.

He said : ‘The police response has been heavy handed – and it’s the kids they are penalising not us. The police behaviour was unpleasant and completely unnecessary.

‘Nine officers and a police van created an intimidating atmosphere around the school.
I was approached by a young policewoman who told me to "move" – not "excuse me sir" — it was just a total ignorant attitude .

‘I explained to the officer I was going to park here for five minutes to get my son. I said ‘He’s a wheelchair user and we have got a side loading lift’, – "not my problem" was the reply, "move it" so I said "no, I’m stopping here I’m going to put my son in."

South Yorkshire police said tackling ‘inconsiderate parking’ in the area was now a priority.

And they wonder why an increasing proportion of the public think that the police can go fuck themselves.

This is the same South Yorkshire Police, we should remember, who arrested and charged Paul Chambers for sending a joke tweet about an airport, which resulted in his conviction. His appeal is ongoing.

Oh and it could well be that there’s something in the police’s assertion that these parents were parking inconsiderately, but the police are supposed to treat members of the public with respect, and they fail on that count, time after time.

A disgrace to the nation, and another legacy of Labour.

AJ

Policy-Based Evidence-Making in a Nutshell

It’s so patently transparent it’s laughable.

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Oh? Do tell? An independent study is that? Oh…

A study by Dr David Lewis, the man credited with inventing the phrase “road rage”, will be used as a major part of the Greener Journeys campaign.

Claire Haigh, a spokesman for Greener Journeys, said the findings might persuade drivers – who were already concerned about excessive CO2 emissions – that travelling by bus had health benefits as well as environmental ones.

“A survey found a fifth of motorists would be prepared to swap to public transport for reasons to do with the environment. Just one double-decker bus can take 75 cars off the road considerably reducing emissions levels,” she said.

Do I even need to dig into this absolute bollocks? The chances of a double-decker bus being 100% occupied by people who would otherwise each be on their own in a car?

Occupancy levels in city centres are an indication of this, and in one survey of city centre bus occupancy (four cities in Scotland), occupancy varied from 40% in the later morning to 80% in the morning peak.

And in London

average car occupancy in London is 1.6.

[The mayor’s] action plan does not spell out what he will do to improve London Buses’ low bus occupancy of 15, i.e. the average bus only has 15 people on it.

And certainly a proportion of those people will be those who can’t drive or don’t run a car.

I don’t think there’s much need to rehearse the other reasons why bus travel may be more unpleasant and stressful than driving. Namely the travelling public, in all their smelly, noisy, retarded glory.

It’s no coincidence that on the day of the last tube strike in London, Twitter was awash with people hating their experience with buses.

If it’s worse than the London Underground, it’s Pretty Fucking Grim.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a co-conspirator.

Driving not more stressful; At least when I am travelling in my own car I am quite happy for the man next to me to put his hand on my thigh

Quite.

AJ

Collaborators, snitches and the Stasi

I expect the forums at Pistonheads.com have been rendered in a state of apoplexy about this:

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Thousands of drivers have been reported by fellow motorists after being spotted speeding, drink driving or talking on mobile phones.

Anyone reported twice in a year could face police action under the scheme, named Operation Crackdown. The culprits could receive a home visit or a warning letter.

Sussex Police is trialling the campaign and has already received 20,488 reports from the public. Warning letters have been sent to 2,695, while a further 1,047 have been sanctioned for offences such as having an out-of-date tax disc.

The scheme, under which reports are submitted anonymously online, could be rolled out nationally if it is deemed a success.

A newsletter promoting the scheme reads: "Are you fed up with anti-social drivers? People who still use their mobile phones while driving, not wearing seat belts or those who insist on getting right up your bumper and are really annoying and dangerous to others."

I’m sorry.. how does not wearing a seatbelt constitute anti-social or dangerous driving?

Surely they’ve seen the studies showing that when wearing seatbelts, people drive in a less risk-averse way? AKA the Peltzman effect.

No, this is not about safety or anti-social driving. It’s about the police asking members of the public to do their job for them, and in doing so, appeal to the worse-nature of the inevitable portion of society that is given to being judgemental, self-righteous, nosey and vindictive.

Dylan Sharpe of Big Brother Watch points out the most obvious flaws with the plan, and is quoted in the article.

Dylan Sharpe, of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, warned that Operation Crackdown is "based on unfounded accusations by untrained and possibly prejudiced members of the public".

He added: "This scheme is wide open to abuse, ranging from people with minor grudges against neighbours to busybody drivers who think they know what constitutes bad driving."

There is a further problem though. I drive getting on for 30,000 miles a year. On a mile for mile basis, that makes me 2-3 times more likely than the average 10k a year driver, to be reported by some embittered numpty. And yet the bar for police action is set at 2 reports over a given period, not per 10,000 miles driven. Of course it’s obvious that they can’t realistically judge it on miles driven, but the result is a creation that is manifestly unfair to those of us who drive a lot, in the course of generating revenue for the tax man to steal from us, to play for police.

But…

The main problem I have with this scheme is something of a personal one. I’m a target for this shit. I drive quickly and assertively. I have no patience for timewasters and idiots on the road.

You know what I find to be anti-social? Driving at 40mph in 50mph zone for no good reason, and causing a queue of traffic to build up.

I don’t want to be doing 40. I want to be doing 50 (probably I want to be doing more than that, but I can live with 50), and you can bet your arse that after a half mile or so, I’ll be doing everything I can to draw this fact to your fucking ignorant attention.

BMWREARVIEW 
This means “Get the fuck out of my way” you tedious wanker.

So what do the police encourage? Well they diagnose my behaviour to be anti-social and ask the 40mph fuckwit to report me.

They will doubtless fail to accept my assertion that Mr 40mph is, in fact, the one driving anti-socially.

Similarly, the art of overtaking is a dying one in this country, and when encountered, it is frequently met with righteous indignation, flashed headlamps or a ‘wanker’ gesture.

For why? I didn’t do anything dangerous. There was a plentiful gap, and I used my car’s considerable power in order to overtake swiftly and safely, in line the police driving manual Roadcraft.

No doubt a goodly proportion of these remonstrators will be moved to go on to the local police website and tell tales about me.

What’s interesting about the phenomenon regarding objections to overtaking is that the usual source of this objection comes from one of two stereotypes. Firstly, is the obvious one. Old people, of whom there are far too many on the roads, and most of them drive like total fucking morons. Secondly, though, is young men.. teenagers to late 20s. The class of the New Labour years. Conformist metrosexual sheep.

Fuck them all.

AJ

NB: This is far from being the first time that a police force has tried to make informers out of their paymasters.

UPDATE: Manwiddicombe makes an interesting case for exceptional circumstances.

This evening at around 6pm I was proceeding in an Easterly direction along the Old Shoreham Road (A270) approaching the junction for West Hove Sainsburys. I was driving *cough* at the 40 mph speed limit when a vehicle raced past me in the outside lane.

It was definitely travelling at speeds in excess of the posted limit. A *cough* passenger in my vehicle managed to take a photo of the rear of the vehicle with a mobile telephone device. Would you like to see the photo?

Whoever it is that works for this nannying outfit deserves everything they fucking get. Speed kills? Cunt.

This is just getting fucking tiresome now.

Sort this out, Eric Pickles you Happy Shopper Peter Griffin-lookalike.

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It had been thought plans for workplace parking levies would be abandoned after ministers declared an end to the "war on motorists" within days of the Coalition’s formation.

Yeah – I think we already realised Philip Hammond was taking the piss out of us.

Initially, the parking levy was seen as a way to tackle congestion and cut carbon emissions. Now, there is growing evidence it is also being seen as a source of extra cash. Nottingham City Council will be the first council to impose a £250 levy on local employers, from 2012. Within two years, the bill will rise to £350 and will target all companies with 11 or more parking spaces.

Ah – the old cutting congestion and emissions gag. It won’t do either, and we all know why. People who drive to work do so because there is no viable alternative. They have no public transport alternative that would save them time or money, both of which are at a premium.

So I suppose that we should be grateful that some of them have decided to stop hiding behind that tired old eco bullshit.

Bristol City Council, for example, in its draft strategy, describes the levy as a "revenue stream" to help fund other transport initiatives.

Hampshire council are really taking the piss with their cover story though. I’m pretty sure Hampshire is true blue Tory, but nevertheless…

Hampshire County Council, meanwhile, is considering a "modest" – but unspecified – charge for the south of the region, including Southampton and Portsmouth, to, says a consultation document, "redress the imbalance between free commuter parking for some staff at office complexes" and "parking for other staff in public spaces where payment is required".

What they patently refuse to acknowledge is that for a lot of people who use their cars, there simply is no public transport alternative and there never will be for anyone who lives and works outside of a major city. No amount of buses, trams, trains, bicycles or carpooling is ever going to make any difference whatsoever to commuters in most of Britain. We are a cash-cow.

"Based on Nottingham it would probably work out at about £1 a day. Whether companies would pass the cost on to their staff may vary," she said. "This may not change behaviour but could raise money for public transport."

My company has around 2000 parking spaces in the UK. There is no practicable way to pass charges onto individuals on a pro-rata basis per their car-park usage.

So the company swallows the cost and claws it back by further reducing pay rises, which have already fallen significantly behind inflation over the last 3 years.

Experts on local government believe that authorities may have little alternative but to turn to drivers as a source of income. “Councils are going to look at that kind of a thing as an option,” said Caroline Green, a policy consultant with the Local Government Association. “Traditional forms of money raising will not be sufficient.”

Well I’ve got a better idea, which will avoid this whole problem at a stroke.

It’s one that I’ve personally had to get to grips with this year, as has everyone else in the private sector. If you work in the public sector, this is gonna blow your tiny mind.

Cut costs. Spend less. Waste less. It’s really quite simple, you fucking leeches.

AJ

Speed guns do not work, says copper who was caught by one.

Golden.

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A senior policewoman clocked speeding is challenging the charge by claiming that the speed gun used by her own force was not accurate.

If she wins, it could open the floodgates to thousands of appeals from motorists across the country who have been caught using the devices.

Superintendent Helen Chamberlain, 43, was recorded driving at 79mph on a road with a 50mph limit.

She was given a verbal warning by the officer who stopped her. But a more senior officer disagreed with the decision and asked the Crown Prosecution Service to review the case.

Supt Chamberlain, from Harworth, Nottinghamshire, who works for Nottinghamshire police’s city division, pleaded not guilty to a charge of speeding at Nottingham magistrates’ court on Wednesday.

Ian Boddy, defending, said that questions over the accuracy of the speed gun test result would form the basis of her not guilty plea.

That’ll be one to watch, although I don’t like her chances, unless she’s got Nick Freeman’s firm onboard.

Thing is, this will come down to one of two things. Either she’s trying it on, or she knows that her own police force has issued thousands of penalty notices to innocent motorists who have precious little chance of defending themselves. Either way, the stench of ‘one rule for them’ lingers in the air again.

AJ

I errr. Oh FFS.

I despair at this sort of utter stupidity.

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A bereaved mother has led a protest against the ending of a speed camera partnership scheme in her area.

Presumably the young child she lost was mown down by a speeding driver. No? What then…

Claire Brixey’s son Ashley, 20, was killed in a crash in Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire, in 2004 when the car in which he was a passenger landed upside-down in a swimming pool after the driver lost control.

Well, very sad I’m sure.

Ms Brixey, who lives in Standerwick on the Wiltshire/Somerset border, has been a road safety campaigner since the crash.

In the protest in Trowbridge, she urged a rethink of the decision to end the Wiltshire and Swindon Camera Safety Partnership scheme.

Ms Brixey told Sky News: "We need to show the importance of them (speed cameras) and that we need to keep them, that they are there for a very, very good reason and they do save lives."

And this tragedy happened in 2004 you say? When there were FUCKING LOADS of speed cameras operating in Wiltshire?

They didn’t save your son. What good did they do? Anything?

UPDATE: As pointed out by @TheABD on twitter… regarding the car in which Ms Brixey’s son died:

The driver Richard Joyce, who was twice over the legal alcohol limit and had taken ecstasy before getting behind the wheel

So errr… speed cameras, which have replaced traffic policemen are REALLY GREAT at detecting drugged and drunk drivers. (More from The ABD on this incident and the way it has been manipulated here).

This is precisely why the bereaved should not be given a voice in policy, because they are rendered incapable of rational and objective thought.

Have some dignity and grieve in peace, then move on, instead of dedicating the rest of your life to a misguided march of miserablism.

Fucking idiots.

AJ

UPDATE: I missed another golden quote in that article:

Ellen Booth, campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake, said: "Increasingly, decisions being made on speed cameras are more about politics and less about facts.

Ahaha… Ahahahahaaaaaa. Ahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaasaaaaaa GRRRRRRRRR. Do these people have no self-awareness at all?

For those who don’t know, Brake was set up by a woman who wanted to campaign for speed cameras, reduced limits, more penalties and fines etc, because her son was killed by an HGV whose brakes had failed.

If you want to know some of the FACTS that Brake find deeply uncomfortable, get yourself over to the Safespeed website.

Born to be an MP

It’s uncanny.

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A newly elected MP who was spotted using her mobile phone while behind the wheel of her car was today banned from driving for six months.

Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South-East, was also found to have no car insurance when stopped by police, Bolton magistrates heard.

The former barrister and human-rights lawyer had been elected as the constituency’s new MP on 6 May but four days later was caught by police while driving through the town talking on her mobile.

The Labour MP, who was not in court, apologised to magistrates through her solicitor, who said she would now have the "inconvenience" of having to use taxis and public transport.

Poor lamb. And for a single offence to.. oh.. wait…

the MP already had nine points on her licence when she was stopped shortly before 3pm on 10 May by police…

She had committed a previous offence of using her mobile phone while driving, in 2008, and two speeding offences, one in 2007 and the other last year.

Hmmm.. female Labour MP, former human rights lawyer, charged with using a phone while driving, already had points for speeding…

Remind you of anyone?

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The minister was fined £350 and ordered to pay £75 costs and a £15 victim surcharge after her lawyer entered a guilty plea at City of Westminster magistrates court. Her driving licence was also endorsed with three points.

The court heard that Harman already has six penalty points on her licence after being caught speeding in a 30mph zone twice. The first incident happened in April 2007 and the second in April last year.

Might I suggest the strongest commonality is the conviction that the laws they make for the little people don’t apply to them.

I’ll be watching Ms Qureshi – further entertainment is almost inevitable.

AJ

It’s quite simple really.

This is a good thing:

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First of all, “Britain’s most senior traffic policeman” is just that because he’s more or less the ONLY traffic policeman.

As a result of the tenure system introduced into police forces and the sometime abolition of traffic policing units, most police seen on the roads have no proper experience or training as traffic policemen.

Instead, speed cameras are used to detect drunk drivers, tired drivers, dangerous and careless drivers, stolen vehicles and.. oh.. no .. wait. Speed cameras can’t  do any of that.

Let’s look at Chief Constable Baldylard’s rationale.

“We have invested heavily in infrastructure. There is a danger that it is dwindling away. I think a vacuum has been created and people are reacting to that inappropriately,” he told The Times. “If nothing is put in place, speeds will rise and casualties will grow.” Driving standards will deteriorate, child road safety programmes will be hit and the education of offenders will cease, Mr Giannasi said.

Okay – is that all? What? There’s something else? Oh…

The Treasury would also lose a “significant” revenue stream.

Here in the UK, we already have the safest roads in the EU, by deaths and serious injuries per passenger kilometre, and still they want to screw us more.

4x more people die as a result of hospital acquired infections than on the road.

Spend the money that matey above wants for speed cameras on hospital cleaners and I think we may see a better return on our investment.

Let’s also expose Baldy’s logical fallacy. From the Tellygiraffe, for the non-paywallers out there:

But Mr Giannasi told Today: ”The evidence is that road safety camera partnerships have achieved significant reductions in road casualties over the last decade – there are almost half the number of casualties now that there were eight years ago.”

Correlation does not imply causation.

By which I mean, here are some of the other factors that will have contributed to to reductions in casualties:

  • Years of increased traffic without corresponding increase in road capacity means everyone has slowed down in the last 10 years simply because of constantly worsening congestion.
  • Cars have become much safer due to EU and US rules – airbags and ABS are the norm now. Passenger safety measures built into cars are now much more stringent. Brake & tyre technologies have improved. Traction control systems have improved.
  • The cost of fuel has persuaded many people (me included) to drive more sedately.

Oh and by the way, the outcome in Swindon doesn’t (yet) reflect Chief Constable Baldylard’s prediction.

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So Fatty McFailcop needs to get back in his box.

AJ

Young Tory. Kinda gets it, actually.

This was an interesting and encouraging post from Robert Leitch at Conservative Home.

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Firstly, let’s take heed of the good stuff:

Ultimately, however, our greatest concern should be for our road networks – a quick glance at the relevant statistics is telling. Since 2001 the number of cars on Britain’s roads has risen considerably from 24.6 million to 28.5 million, whilst in 2009 the overall volume of motor vehicle traffic was 313 billion vehicle miles. Surprisingly, perhaps, 90% of all passenger travel takes place on the roads with just 7% by rail and 1% by air. Despite these figures, in 2006-07 (the latest figures available) the UK spent over £5 billion on railways and just £4.8 billion on our roads.

Meanwhile, 70% of adults now hold driving licences and over 80% of our population live in a household with at least one car. Put simply, our lust for cars and driving continues to rise ceaselessly, ensuring that the pressure on Britain’s 245,000 miles of road is set to intensify yet further. Faced with such increasing demand and usage, it is all too apparent that the status quo is simply not sustainable – significant investment is required.

Naturally, at present, any talk of such investment is quite rightly viewed through sceptical eyes. The huge budget deficit and upcoming spending reviews leave little room for expenditure on the scale required. However, to swiftly dismiss the need for investment in our road networks is a dangerous attitude – frankly, we depend upon them more than we seem to realise.

Indeed, even from a financial point of view it is worth noting that road users contribute over £47 billion to HM Treasury each and every year. Sadly only £7 billion of this is re-invested in repairing and improving our roads. Whilst road users provide the Chancellor with 4p per mile they drive, rail passengers actually dent the public purse by 21p per mile of each journey. Clearly, road users pay their way and as such their plight must be taken seriously.

Failure to act and invest in Britain’s roads will not only impose transport misery upon the vast majority of motorists, but it could also affect our social and economic well-being and development too. As the economy begins to stutter back into life, we are in desperate need of a wide-ranging road management strategy for the future. Without any such plan, the volume of traffic will increase yet further cutting capability, diminishing reliability and hindering economic growth. 

After all, we must appreciate that it is not just the individual who suffers from our broken infrastructure but, more importantly, our small and medium size businesses too. Functional transport networks are critical to the economy and, in 2003, the estimated cost of congestion to businesses in London alone was over £5.3 billion. We cannot afford to underestimate the cost of poor investment in our road networks or its impact on our wider economy.

But I need to pull him up on a couple of things.

Firstly, his bloody awful opening paragraph.

As we embark upon the traditional holiday month of August, many of us will be looking forward to getting away for that welcome break. However, whether it be the sunshine beach resort or the quaint countryside cottage that beckons, general relaxation is only likely to begin once we have battled our way through countless roadworks, queues, accidents, delays and service cancellations to reach our destination. If truth be told, getting from A to B has never been more problematic and it is during the holiday seasons that our creaking transport infrastructure is highlighted most vividly.

This is the problem with Young Conservatives. It fair winds me up to be told by a grinning kid that they remember when this was all fields.

It’s like their Dad did their homework for them.

But then, as if to provide evidence that his Dad didn’t do his homework for him, there’s this in his wrap-up:

Labour, as in so many areas, flunked the opportunity to act. This sluggish approach is highlighted by the fact that only Belgium, Italy and Lithuania did less than the UK to improve the capacity of their national motorway systems in Europe between 1996 and 2006. We are already a decade out of date.

Dear chap, Labour did not flunk the opportunity. They didn’t drop the ball, or fail to plan ahead.

When they came into power in 1997, and while sticking to the Tories’ spending plans, John Prescott as Transport Secretary wilfully cancelled or suspended almost every road-building or improvement project.

The Old Labour rump, including Transport Secretary Prescott, were ideologically opposed to any expansion of travel by car. Which explains the proliferation of bus lanes, traffic ‘calming’ measures, speed cameras, fuel taxes and other faux environmental measures. At the same time, they allowed train fares to rise, rise and rise again.

Still, whether or not Leitch got there by the same route as I would have taken, his assessment of the situation and his conclusion are 100% on the money. It pleases me to think there is hope amongst the Ellie Gellard generation of brainwashed kids who were betrayed by the Gramscian education establishment.

Ultimately, a long-term strategic plan of road investment is critically required. Even in these bleak economic times, the Government must commit to reviewing the situation with an open mind, particularly with respect to encouraging private investment into road building, maintenance and management. Our roads have been neglected for too long – it must now be an urgent priority to repair Britain’s woefully blocked transport veins and accelerate them into the 21st century.

Quite.

AJ

I have twine. I shall now make a rope.

noose[1]

Prompted by something highlighted by CharonQC.

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Police were investigating today after an officer accidentally discharged a 50,000 volt Taser weapon into a man’s groin.

Peter Cox, 49, was seeking legal advice over the incident which started when he was stopped on suspicion of driving a BMW without insurance.

He spotted a patrol car following him and pulled over at his friend’s house in Bridgwater, Somerset, where he was doing landscaping work on July 13.

The officer pointed the Taser at him for a few seconds before lowering the weapon.

At this point, it discharged, narrowly missing the father-of-one’s genitals and hitting his groin and ankle.

Unemployed Mr Cox, who suffers from Guillain Barri syndrome, fell to the ground in agony and he was treated by paramedics on the front lawn.

He denied being aggressive and said the insurance company confirmed the car had valid insurance immediately after he was stopped.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said the weapon was discharged by accident and that an investigation was under way.

Mr Cox’s disease by the way, is this:

Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) is an acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP), an autoimmune disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system, usually triggered by an acute infectious process.

Some of the symptoms seem disturbing and very unfortunate.

Meanwhile, the other day, Ambush Predator pointed this out:

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That doesn’t count accidental discharge of Tasers, apparently, since they’re not mentioned in the article.

And yet Tasers are, by law, classified as firearms. In days gone by, only firearms certified plod could carry or use a Taser. I’m not sure if that’s still the case, as I know Labour wanted to hand 10,000 of the things to non-firearms trained coppers last year.

So how does this affect you or me, in the world of law-abiding, middle-class professionals.

Well, stopped for a BMW apparently being uninsured? Hardly a Ford Escort, is it? Okay, I know there are now loads of snotty old Beemers around, but still, the one I sold last year was a 2001 model – hardly brand spanking new.

But of course, you and I always properly insure our cars, as much for reasons of exposure to unlimited civil liability as to remain within the laws of the land. So, if you read the article at the top, did Mr Cox.

the insurance company confirmed the car had valid insurance immediately after he was stopped.

So did my commenter in this thread. My emphasis.

AJ – I’m painfully aware of the new insurance database laws. I have had one car impounded because my insurance wasn’t on the database. I had to walk home and It cost me £117 to get it back the following day. The insurance company wouldn’t pay up because apparently it takes up to 5 days for your policy to appear on the database.

I was stopped later on in the year and had my documents with me. Again I wasn’t on the database. It appears that my reg no had been entered with a zero that should have been a “o”. They didn’t impound me that time because it was not the traffic cops that stopped me; they phone my insurance company and verified my insurance.

They did tell me that if it had been a traffic stop, my car would have been impounded, regardless of the fact that I had my documents because they could have been fake. They also said that the traffic cops wouldn’t even have made the phonecall, they would have just taken my car and left it up to me to prove I had insurance.

So there it is. Change insurers, or have an insurer that enters your registration plate into their computer in an unorthdox way, and you will get stopped.

You may be denied the opportunity to prove your car is insured, before it is impounded at your cost.

I travel all over the UK on business. What if something like this were to happen when I was in, say, Newcastle? 250 miles from home and 100lbs of luggage and kit either carried home or lost with the car.

I think I’d get pretty fucking irate. Possibly on account of my own health issues. And then PC Fucksmith would accidentally taser me in the bollocks.

There but for the grace of my imaginary best friend go I…

I give you the Muppets:

AJ

The penny finally drops

I pointed this out on 26 October 2008 and 5 May 2009.

Someone has finally pointed the elephant out.

Better late than never I suppose.

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Analysts for Saturn Energy calculated that a fuel duty of up to 10p a mile would be required to pay for the extra demand which will be created if the Government’s targets on renewable energy are hit.

The Climate Change Committee has said that 1.7 million electric cars should be on Britain’s roads by 2020.

The firm’s experts said the National Grid was already struggling to provide enough power for Britain’s needs and urgent modernisation was required to boost capacity to provide for the needs of any surge in the number of electric cars.

The firm also said that electricity should cost "about the same as petrol", which is certain to deter those motorists who are shifting to electric cars to try to save money on driving.

Critics of electric cars have cited research which appears to show that such vehicles are only half as efficient as diesel engines, once the environmental cost of traditional power generation is taken into account.

Well I’ll be damned.

AJ

Dear Philip Hammond

When you said

"We will end the war on motorists. Motoring has got to get greener but the car is not going to go away."

…is this what you had in mind?

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Ministers are proposing a 20mph speed limit on urban roads to reduce deaths and reclaim the streets for cyclists and pedestrians.

The reduction from 30mph would apply to all town centre and residential streets except busy through roads, which will remain at the existing limit.

Is it any wonder we already treat posted speed-limits as advisory?

Edmund King, president of the AA, warned that motorists could ignore the new limits.

He said: “In our view it is more effective to target 20mph zones where they are really needed and are almost self-enforcing.

“If it becomes the default, you will get a lot of 20mph limits that aren’t warranted and are just ignored. The deterrent effect will wear off, like the 70mph speed limit on motorways.”

Quite so. Over the years, the reductions of various speed limits coupled with draconian and arbitrary enforcement has persuaded me to slow down and drive more sedately.

I could never have predicted the consequences. Instead of focussing my full attention on the road, I am now so unencumbered by the task of driving itself that I have spare capacity to drink coffee, roll a cigarette, program my sat-nav and check twitter on my phone.

If you give me the opportunity to drive at the pace I want to drive at, all of those dangerous and superfluous activities go straight out of the window, in favour of focussing on the engaging task at hand.

If the government wants to improve safety in the world of motoring, instead of salami slicing speed limits and blood alcohol limits, they should focus on raising standards. If that means every license holder being re-tested (at their own expense) every five years, then so be it.

If that means 10% of the motoring population are removed from the roads every five years, so be it.

If it means finding a way to persuade insurers, and judges, that an advanced motoring qualification is worthy of significantly favourable treatment, so be it.

After all,

Of ALL accidents in the reported 12 month period (right hand column):

  • 5% were caused by impairment by alcohol.
  • 1% were caused by drugs (illicit or medicinal)
  • 2% were caused by a distraction inside the vehicle (kids, phones etc?)

So far so good. Now to the point.

  • 14% were caused by performing a poor turn or manoeuvre.
  • 37% were caused by a failure to look properly.
  • 19% were caused by a failure to judge other person’s path or speed.

Well there we are then. Right there are a load of causes we could do something about, under the heading Poor or incompetent driving.

Or shall we continue with the old socialist politics of punishing the many for the sins of the few?

AJ

Drink Driving & The Blood Alcohol Limit

About every 3 months (e.g. see here) for the last 10 years, a story has appeared in the papers that goes pretty much like this:

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Under the plans, the limit would fall from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg. Anyone caught above the new limit would face an automatic 12-month driving ban, even if they were only marginally over the threshold.

I should point out, this is the first time we’ve heard this story since Philip Hammond lauded the end of the war against motorists.

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So, with that in mind, let’s have a look at the basis of this urgent and draconian requirement. The drink driving an accident stats that must have been rising at some rate in order to precipitate this move.

• In 2008, it was estimated that 13,020 reported casualties (6 per cent of all road
casualties
) occurred when someone was driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit.

• The provisional number of people estimated to have been killed in drink drive accidents
was 430 in 2008 (17 per cent of all road fatalities), an increase of 20 fatalities compared
to 2007.

• The provisional number of KSI (killed or seriously injured) casualties in 2008 was 2,060,
less than a quarter of the 1980 level and 5 per cent below the 2007 level.

• Provisional figures for the number of slight casualties in 2008 fell 7 per cent since 2007,
from 11,850 to 10,970.

Not exactly dramatic, is it? Let’s look at the pretty picture:

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Errr.. okay. So why target alcohol in this way?

Let’s have a look at some of the other causes of road accidents that might perhaps warrant some attention.

Here’s the table – click to enlarge, and I’ll pull a few key stats out below.

Accidents-Table1a

Of ALL accidents in the reported 12 month period (right hand column):

  • 5% were caused by impairment by alcohol.
  • 1% were caused by drugs (illicit or medicinal)
  • 2% were caused by a distraction inside the vehicle (kids, phones etc?)

So far so good. Now to the point.

  • 14% were caused by performing a poor turn or manoeuvre.
  • 37% were caused by a failure to look properly.
  • 19% were caused by a failure to judge other person’s path or speed.

Well there we are then. Right there are a load of causes we could do something about, under the heading Poor or incompetent driving.

I despair at the continuous fiddling at the edge which impacts on us all, when some straightforward measures could have a massive impact.

Next, let’s have a look at the trends in these causation statistics. Again, click to enlarge.

image 

Caused by failing to look properly – percentage.

  • 2005 – 32%
  • 2006 – 35%
  • 2007 – 35%
  • 2008 – 37%

See that? The increase in accidents caused by failure to look properly? Over 4 years that delta is equal to the absolute proportion caused by alcohol.

Caused by failing to judge other person’s speed or path – percentage.

  • 2005 – 18%
  • 2006 – 18%
  • 2007 – 18%
  • 2008 – 19%

Oh – hey – a 1% rise. And 1% is the total proportion of accidents caused by legal and illegal drugs.

Now if only they could break down those failing to look and failing to judge figures by gender. That would be interesting.

In the meantime, ConDems. Shelve this shit and keep your promise to get off our backs, eh?

AJ

UPDATE: The Telegraph article points to a suggestion that [weasel word alert] the number of fatalities could be cut be up to 168 a year.

In other words, this report reckons that nearly 40% of drink-driving deaths in 2008 were caused by drivers in the margin between the current 80mg and proposed 50mg limit.

I’ll be interested to know how that estimate was arrived at.

UPDATE 2: Actually, it’s worse than I stated above. The report referred to in the Telegraph, gives the 168 figure for England and Wales only. The Figure of 430 deaths (killed due to alcohol impared driver/rider) refers to Great Britain, so you need to take the Scottish figures (~30 per this) away from the 430.

This pushes the estimated percentage of fatalities caused by drivers in the margin between the current 80mg and proposed 50mg limit much closer to 50%.

To see how badly this figure doesn’t stack up, we’ll now refer to table 3d (p.38) in the “Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2008”. Click to enlarge.

image

Of motorcycle riders, in 2007:

13% of those killed had more than 50mg of alcohol/100ml of blood.

11% of those killed had more than 80mg of alcohol/100ml of blood.

In other words, 2% of those motorcyclists killed had blood alcohol levels between the existing and the proposed levels.

Of drivers, in 2007:

24% of those killed had more than 50mg of alcohol/100ml of blood.

22% of those killed had more than 80mg of alcohol/100ml of blood.

In other words, 2% of those drivers killed had blood alcohol levels between the existing and the proposed levels.

This seems to give the big fat whopping lie to the estimated reduction of 40% or more, sold by report author Sir Peter North, the former Principal of Jesus College, as the pay off for this reduction in the limit from 80mg to 50mg.

Disclaimer: I’m not a statistician, so my figures are inevitably somehow flawed, but I don’t think they’re a million miles off.

Let the mongnitive dissonance flow

We’ve already had the bin thing today.

Now this. 13th May:

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Within 24 hours of taking on the portfolio he confirmed the new administration would bring in a "fuel price stabiliser" which would see the taxes reduced if the price of oil rises sharply.

However fuel duties would rise if the cost of petrol and diesel fell.

Mr Hammond, who drives a Jaguar, sought to underline the new Government’s motorist-friendly credentials confirming a manifesto pledge that there would be no Whitehall cash for new fixed speed cameras.

All good – fuel duty stabiliser and death to speed cameras, right? Wrong.

Today:

Conservative plans to cut fuel duty when oil prices are high have been abandoned, leading to fears that motorists will be targeted.

Meanwhile:

image

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TFI Drinkipoos time.

AJ

Silent running

I can’t find it on my blog anywhere (yet) but I saw this one coming a year ago.

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The vision of tranquil modern cities, with inhabitants gliding by silently in electric cars, may be shattered by European plans to introduce artificial warning sounds to the new generation of zero-emission vehicles.

Each manufacturer may be permitted to provide its own “signature tune”, with the regulation simply setting a minimum volume to prevent pedestrians, cyclists and especially blind people from stepping into the path of battery-powered cars.

Some manufacturers are likely to opt for an engine noise while others are considering adopting the noises of spacecraft from science fiction films, such as the podracers from Star Wars.

Oh fabulous – not content with having a mobile phone that makes a stupid noise everytime it rings, we can expect people to be downloading ‘broomtones’ for their cars. A GWiz with a Ferrari sound-track. A Corsa that plays Girls Aloud in the direction of travel.

Genius.

AJ